Barbecue and brisket are soon to replace hot dogs and limeade at a drive-through fast-food restaurant in Martinez.
Before closing one of his Sonic restaurants on Furys Ferry Road near The Pass on Dec. 31, Augusta Sonic franchisee Rick McMurtrey had already made plans to open his own dining establishment in its place.
“There are concepts out there that we think are better suited to use this building for than Sonic,” said McMurtrey, who operates 12 Sonic restaurants in the Augusta area, including two in Columbia County.
On Jan. 10, McMurtrey will open Roadhouse Rib Palace on Furys Ferry Road. McMurtrey has spent about a month remodeling the former Sonic, which stayed open for about five years.
The Furys Ferry Road Sonic differed from other Sonics in that it didn’t have the traditional drive-in setup.
Instead, it offered customers a sit-down dining area.
“People just never understood that you could actually come in, sit down and eat versus coming through the drive-through,” McMurtrey said.
The restaurant can accommodate more than 60 diners in the dining room and 30 customers on the patio, he said.
The surplus of surrounding residences also makes the location a desirable one, McMurtrey added.
Roadhouse’s menu will offer a variety of barbecue sandwiches and plates. Diners can choose from pulled pork or chicken, ribs, brisket and smoked sausage.
Two special dishes at the Roadhouse are a loaded baked potato topped with any two meats and smothered in baked beans, and barbecue tacos.
“We’re going to have a chipotle fried chicken strip that is just phenomenal,” he said. “We’ve got three or four things that really I think are differentiators in terms of what we offer that no one else around here is going to be offering in addition to great barbecue.”
The restaurant will employ 12 people and remain open from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
McMurtrey, who opened his first Sonic in 1993, said the Roadhouse restaurant has been in the works for nearly three years.
Initially, McMurtrey said he considered bringing in a chain, such as Shane’s Rib Shack or Sticky Fingers, but decided against it. He described the venture as the next step in becoming a full entrepreneur.
“This seemed like the perfect storm in terms of the economy, the interest rates, the opportunity,” he said, “and given the fact that there aren’t really any barbecue restaurants in this particular area of Columbia County.”
For more information or to view a menu, call the restaurant at (706) 869-0084 or visit www.roadhouseribpalace.com.